Is there such a thing as a social media expert?

I posted this question across various Linkedin Franchise Groups, Social Media and E-marketing groups, and within the LinkedIn Q & A section.

Of course, I shared my initial thoughts…

“In my opinion, there is no such thing as a social media expert. How can one be an expert within something that is changing every day?

Besides, social media is a communications tool and as such, must be integrated within traditional processes and methods. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. At best, an individual can be considered an expert in utilizing social media within a specific industry segment or for a particular purpose (ie – fund raising).”

…and also provided some additional clarification.

“I do profess to be quite proficient in franchising and I just happen to have focused my attention on utilizing social media within the franchise environment.

To me, while it’s important to continue to hone my skills within social media, my real focus, and expertise if you will, is in integrating social technology within traditional marketing and development processes within franchising, and in accordance with the legal parameters of franchising including disclosure and FPRs, and in keeping the franchise relationship in mind.

The same can be said of email and mobile technology. The key is in how these technologies can be integrated within traditional processes, and sometimes with each other, to enhance messages, improve reach, and increase marketing efficiencies… and within franchising.”

Care to share your thoughts?

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What questions do you need answered before including social media in your organization’s marketing strategy?

sales questionsHere’s five questions (and answers) to start with:

1. Isn’t social media just a new type of ad?

No it’s more than that, it’s actually a whole new way of reaching clients. If you think of ads as one technique used to communicate your value to prospects, social media is a whole new channel to do this. Yes you can still communicate your value but rather than trying to cram it all into one sentence (as you would with an ad) you have to be a bit more patient.

2. Isn’t all this social media stuff expensive?

Well yes and no. From a cash investment perspective, most of the top online social media services are free of charge to register with. However, to really make an impact through these tools you need to spend a lot of time on them. You have to explore, see who’s talking about things related to your company and try to open up a dialogue with them in a non-creepy way.

3. But I hear it’s all a fad anyways.

Certainly various social media services will come and go and some will be a bit more gimmicky than others, but the underlying principle of social media, transparency, is hard-coded into the very DNA of the world wide web. If you can build your social media ‘muscles’ on one tool you’ll quite easily be able to transfer this skill set and mentality to other tools.

4. It’s all very well to make ‘friends’ online but SHOW ME THE MONEY

There are clear cut and well documented examples of companies making money from social media. But it doesn’t quite work like a typical print/online ad. You’re not likely to get a flood of business from your first blog post, your first message on Twitter or your first video uploaded to YouTube. But as you start developing a base of followers you can really start to leverage the power of social media. Imagine having a few thousand online users following your every uttering on Twitter, or subscribing diligently to your blog updates. These become powerful channels for launching new products, promoting special offers and even testing products.

5. Ok, so I guess we’ll need to hire some guru to get us set up?

By all means if you can, hire one of the multitude of talented social media gurus and specialist agencies. But I think you’d do just fine with a couple of diligent, friendly and passionate members of staff. After all, you and your staff know your product and your clients better than any guru. Also, in the world of social media, an authentic, if perhaps clumsy approach trumps a polished but scripted approach. People can usually see through that quite quickly and your credibility will drop dramatically.

These are just a few of the questions and answers I recently posted on LinkedIn. I’m sure you have some more, so please fire away and I’ll do my best to provide you with the best answer or solution.